As discussions heat up over a proposed summit between gangsters and various stakeholders, including the police, one Local Government representative has signalled that he is prepared to meet with gang leaders to address the escalating crime and violence in St James.
The disclosure was made by Councillor for the Granville Division in the parish, Michael Troupe, during his address at Thursday’s meeting of the St James Municipal Corporation.
“In Montego Bay is where it (crime) is getting very serious; as a matter of fact, it gets me very scared,” Troupe admitted.
St James, up to June 5, had recorded some 104 killings since the start of the year, leading the 19 geographical police divisions island-wide.
Troupe said he came to the municipal meeting to hear the police put forward some plans to tackle the crime monster now engulfing the city and, by extension, the parish.
However, he lamented that “the same strategies” were being presented by the police “every meeting”.
“… And I don’t think those strategies are working,” declared the People’s National Party (PNP) councillor, adding, however, that he was not expecting the St James police to “spell out their strategies” in the meeting.
“About six months ago I called on the mayor (of Montego Bay) to arrange a summit with all the stakeholders, so we can meet like this, because sometimes you want to talk some things you can’t talk in public.
“Even if it is to meet with the gang leaders, I am prepared to do that. What is happening in St James cannot be allowed to continue!” Troupe insisted.
“Even the baby ‘fraid… Something want to shake up. I don’t know what, (but) something want to shift one side…, but it cannot continue like this. The criminals seem to be winning!” he asserted.
Two Saturdays ago, Homer Davis, State Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) and Member of Parliament (MP) for South St James, called for a summit between gang leaders and the relevant authorities to find solutions to the crime situation in St James.
Homer Davis (file photo)
Minister of Justice, Delroy Chuck, in pointing out that a similar strategy was utilised in Grant’s Pen in his North Eastern St Andrew constituency, has thrown his support behind Davis’ proposal.
However, National Security Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Horace Chang, along with at least one high-ranking member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), have scoffed at the suggestion, declaring for the most part, that they do not negotiate with criminals.
But Troupe is calling for the police to support Davis’ initiative to address the crime rate in St James.
“I am in support of what Homer Davis is saying because sometimes you have to compromise certain things to get certain things,” the veteran councillor said.
He argued that stakeholders are not using people with influence, including dons, who have “greater influence than the police themselves”.
Troupe said not all dons “are necessarily gunmen, but they have some amount of respect in particular communities”. He cited municipal councillors and MPs as dons in their respective divisions or constituencies.
In response to Troupe’s call at the municipal meeting, acting head of the St James police, Superintendent Carlos Russell, assured that several new policing initiatives are coming to the parish in short order.
“I understand your concern, Councillor Troupe, and I am also concerned with recent events, and I can assure you (that) you will see some difference as it relates to our policing,” Russell stated.
Dr Horace Chang
He added that, “I’ve already met with my team and we have discussed some strategies and you will see some differences.
“We continue our anti-gang efforts. As you know, we have been having some issues as it relates to gang activities in the Mount Salem area, so we are continuing those efforts,” Russell explained.
Commissioner of Police, Major General Antony Anderson, on Tuesday indicated that the JCF has boosted its quick response team in St James and “plans are well advanced to establish quick response teams in other parishes out west.
“There are 60 members completing advanced training ahead of being deployed to Area One,” stated Anderson.